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Nimisha Vacchani
Professor Bedell
CAS 138T
March 19, 2014

Deliberation has always played a big role in democratic societies and has become
increasingly popular whether it is face to face or in online communities. The nature of a
deliberation, since its early political history, has been to have a conversation about an important
subject and make a decision after much consideration. A few weeks ago, I was part of a
deliberation concerning how we can help achieve the society we want through higher education.
The deliberation was a success in terms of the nine criteria for deliberative discussion.
The key features for a productive deliberation include nine criteria which are split into
two parts, analytic and social. The analytic process involves five criteria, the first of which being
to create a solid information base in which there is a discussion of personal and emotional
experiences along with facts. The second criteria is to prioritize the key values at stake which
reflect your own values as well as those of the other people present. The third criteria is to
identify a broad range of solutions by brainstorming a wide variety of ways to address the
problem present. And the fourth and fifth criteria are to weigh the pros, cons, trade-offs among
the solutions offered and to then make the best decision out of those provided. Each solution will
not be perfect therefore it is important to know the limitations and then according to that make
your own decision after considering all possibilities and perspectives. The analytic process
suggests that there not only be in-depth analysis present but also reflection from which personal
stories are produced, making it much easier to be involved in the conversation and to relate to the
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human experiences. Conversations in the form of deliberations require different perspectives that
can be gained through personal and emotional experiences so that conversation can grow and
flow taking into consideration the viewpoints of everyone involved.
The second part of the key features for a productive deliberation is the social process
which consists of four components. The first component is to adequately distribute speaking
opportunities by taking turns in the conversation or taking action to ensure a balanced solution.
The second criteria is to ensure mutual comprehension by speaking plainly and asking for
clarification when needed. The next component is to consider other ideas and experiences by
listening to others carefully especially when you disagree. And the final component is to respect
other participants which involves acknowledging their experiences and perspectives and
presuming that they are honest and well intentioned. This social process is a combination of
Habermasian and Barberic conceptions because it involves the ideas of Habermas to have a
ration exchange of views until there is an understand of the concept and you are satisfied with
the conclusion of the issue at hand and the ideas of Barber which are to respect each other and
consider everything another person has to offer.
Our group deliberation achieved a productive deliberation to a certain extent. The
deliberation started off with the moderators informing the participants of the options that were
to be discussed each day and from there a chain of conversation began. For the first option the
criteria for the analytic process was almost entirely reached. The group members agreed that
math and science are important but some members went on to say that there should be no force
because it would result in more dropout. Other members said that it is important to focus on
these areas since it will help us stay at the top and compete with countries like China. One
member stepped up and shared a personal experience in which he talked about how when he was
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younger space was the thing everyone talked about and an astronaut was a profession every child
dreamed of. He went on to say that only when he graduated high school did he learn that there
was a space camp that he could have joined when he was younger but no one had educated him
about it. Thus when students are young, the schools should emphasize math, science, and
technology so that while they are still passionate about something they get to learn about it and
be successful in it in the future. At the end of the deliberation of option one, there was no
consensus reached but that is not a problem since the last criteria in the analytic process suggests
that there need not be a joint decision reached. For the second option there were several different
viewpoints concerning higher education shaping students views about society and values such
as integrity, responsibility, and respect. A question that arose was that shouldnt students be
taught ethics and morals earlier in their education? The members of the group seemed to have
different views when they argued that it would possibly be too much to teach young children and
it would be more appropriate to teach them when they were mature and could comprehend all
that they would be taught and other argued that children should be taught young so that there is a
strong foundation of character built by the time they get to college. Some other views were that
who should say what colleges teach are right? Are they brainwashing students? But it was
established that there should be a middle ground when it comes to options such as this one
because you cannot force someone to believe something but at the same time if it is presented in
an interesting and perhaps hands-on way then students can learn willingly. At the end of the
deliberation for the second option there was a decision reached around the same central idea but
there were not many personal or emotional experiences involved with this option. For the third
and last option the viewpoints circles around a similar idea therefore there was a decision
reached. Students suggested that in fact everyone should get a fair chance but to an extent in
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which students should work hard and if they do work hard they should be given aid so that they
can achieve their full potential but at the same time colleges should not lower their standards for
more students to get a chance. In this option, personal and emotional experiences were shared in
the matter of not being financially equipped and having to worry about costs instead of focusing
on studies. Throughout all these options, the moderators facilitated conversation, some more
successful than others but nonetheless all spurring an in-depth analysis of the issue at hand.

As far as the social process for deliberative conversation goes, our group fulfilled the four
criteria. Everyone was respectful of each other and all viewpoints and ideas were listened to
without any interruption. When the need arose, if anyone was confused about what someone
said, a clarification was requested and quickly supplied. Each member in the group listened
carefully before disagreeing, if and when there were disagreements thus completing the criteria
for the social process in a deliberation. The only problem that arose was that at times there was
not participation from everyone in the group and perhaps there was a repetitive nature
concerning some areas of the options.
Overall, a deliberation is a way for people to communicate fairly easily but it requires
everyone involved to be open minded and respectful of the opinions of others so there is
advancement in the discussion and ultimately a solution for the issue. Not everyone in a
deliberation will have the same perspective therefore it is essential to listen carefully and perhaps
then you will have a better understanding from more than only one viewpoint. After all, only
when people are level-headed and respectful can solutions be found through the art of just having
a conversation.